Valerie Bertinelli was married to a rockstar, is a star, has a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame and has a rockstar son. But overshadowing her more than 50 years of successes are the ups and down she’s experienced in her love life and with her weight.
Now, Hollywood’s sweetheart is dropping some weight and unloading the baggage that once made her believe that her body is what makes a person lovable.
When she was only 14, Valerie Bertinelli, now 63, appeared in an episode of the TV series Apple’s Way, and captured the attention of Norman Lear, who was responsible for many touchstone TV shows of the 1970s, like All in the Family, Maude, Sanford and Sons and One Day at a Time.
Bertinelli was cast in the role of Barbara, the daughter of Bonnie Franklin’s character Ann Romano, and sister to Mackenzie Philips’ Julie.
By the time she was 22, Bertinelli earned two Golden Globe wins for her performance in the popular TV series, that ran from 1975 to 1984. And in that time, she also found love with Eddie Van Halen, whom she was married from 1981 to 2007. The pair have one son, Wolfgang, born in 1991. Bertinelli, who remained close with her ex-husband, was at Eddie’s side when he died of cancer in 2020.
After several stints on short-lived TV series, like Sydney with Matthew Perry of Friends, Bertinelli then became a regular cast member in Touched by an Angel, playing Gloria in the last two seasons.
Her talent was too much to cast aside. From 2010 to 2015, she shared the screen with the legendary Betty White, in the hugely popular TV series Hot in Cleveland, a comedy that followed the lives of three aging entertainers.
Since, she’s made the transition into celebrity chef, hosting Food Network shows like Kids Baking Championship and Valerie’s Home Cooking, the latter earning her two Daytime Emmy Awards.
Through her storied career, fans have noticed her fluctuating weight. At 47, when she tipped the scales at 172 pounds, she became a spokesperson for Jenny Craig, and fans followed her highly publicized journey to drop the extra pounds.
Two years later, she lost 50 pounds and celebrated her 49th birthday by posing in a hot green bikini for a 2019 cover of People.
In a People article, Bertinelli said, “I started to gain weight as soon as the photo shoot ended. I was starving myself and doing twice a day workouts. Some people can look like that without doing that but not me. And there is shame for being part of the problem to make other people think they could do it. I bought into it hook, line and sinker, but I didn’t take care of my head and my heart and I think it really starts with that.”
She revealed that being on the screen made her more vulnerable to body shaming, which started when she was very young.
While filming One Day at a Time, Bertinelli recalled that a reporter told her that she looked like “a ton of lard” standing next Phillips, who was struggling with drug addiction.
And even before she started acting, she said “I watched my father treat my mother badly when she would gain weight.” She continued, “I had a 5th grade teacher poke my belly and say, ‘You want to keep an eye on that.’ So I learned at a very young age that when you gain weight, you’re not lovable. And what I’m learning is that your body is not what makes you lovable.”
Now she realizes that to resolve her relationship with food, she needs to focus on “the mental and emotional work,” which includes healing from the relationship she shared with Vitale, whom she was married from 2011 to 2022.
Though she’s hasn’t been specific, Bertinelli has been candid when speaking generally about people experiencing emotional abuse in their relationships.
“When it comes to emotional abuse and mental abuse, it’s not talked about, because you just think, ‘I’m not being physically abused, so it’s not abuse,’” Bertinelli said in an Instagram post in January.
But through mindfulness, “journaling, therapy and especially humor,” the actor and author is healing. One of the techniques she uses is rolfing, an intense manipulation of the body’s connective tissue, which she says is “It’s so painful, but there’s a release that happens that’s really helpful.”
“I worked really, really, really hard. Physically definitely. I wish to God I had worked just as hard on my mental shape,” she told People. “But when I don’t work on what’s eating me, I’m going to start eating.”
In a recent Instagram post, Bertinelli posted a video, sharing her shrinking waist size with her fans. “So it’s getting about time for me to probably go down another jean size. I can’t believe it. And this all started in November, the month I got free,” she said in the clip, referring to her divorcing Vitale. “And I started really concentrating on my emotional and mental health. And when I started doing that, I started caring about the nutrition that I put in my body more.”
The post continues, “The harsh words and abuse can never be unheard and taken back, but here’s the thing, I wouldn’t have taken them in and believed them in the first place, if I hadn’t been saying harsh and unkind words to myself first,” she writes.
Fans responded to her thoughtful post with comments like, “Seeing you always gives me hope,” and “I love you Val. Little do you know how much you inspired me to get up and moving and get out of my funk of depression. I’m so much happier now. You don’t know how much your journey has helped me.”
In the same clip, Bertinelli adds that she’s “cut back exponentially” on alcohol, that’s helped her lose weight. That load that she was “carrying for protection,” she adds, “I don’t need protection any longer. I’m really starting to love myself. Deep down…Please be kind to yourselves. You deserve it. We all do. We are enough.”
One reader replies to her post, “You are absolutely enough!! You are beautiful! While I don’t know you, of course, what I see is a kind, loving mom and mentor (those kids on kids baking!! So cute) and even more than that, you are a child of God! I pray for Joy for you! You don’t need to give time to those keyboard cowboys spreading their hate!!”
Since Bertinelli freed herself from the shackles of Vitale–whom she alluded is a “narcissist” that criticized her weight–she’s been asked several times if she’s ready to start dating again.
Posting her hilarious answer on Instagram by lip syncing to BoyWithUke’s 2021 song “Two Moons,” she says, “the f— no”
Speaking with People, she says that social media allows her to have conversations with “kind people.” “It would be a gift to connect with people and hopefully have them feel good about themselves. Treating each other with kindness, starts with ourselves.”
And, if you’re wondering what happened to that hot green bikini, she keeps it tucked away in a drawer. “The funny thing is, the green bikini was a size large,” she said. “Even at the lowest weight I’ve been in decades, I was still wearing a large. Everybody’s shape is what we should be celebrating.”
As for Wolfgang, 32, he’s following in his dad’s footsteps as a rocker, recently opening for Metallica.
Lastly, if you’re thinking that Bertinelli is one of those celebrities who doesn’t actually read comments on their social media, think twice.
In January, she posted a “why did you do that” clip on Instagram and one bold fan offered the obvious advice, “You need to let it go and move on. The more energy you put into this the more he is still controlling you emotionally.” Bertinelli replied, saying: “I have moved on Maura, thank you…”
We absolutely love Valerie Bertinelli! What are your favorite shows with her? Do you prefer her as a chef or comedian?
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